Ohio State's Compliance Department recently sent an 805-page care package to the NCAA Committee on Infractions (COI). This was done in lieu of scribbling I promise to do more to keep any miserable part of 2011 from ever happening again 100 times on a chalkboard in Indianapolis.
That monster document has already been summarized into digestible story-length synopses. Unfortunately I'm an old English major and will always prefer the source material over people's interpretations of it, since there is so much you can learn about intent from the scenes relegated to the Director's Cut.
And yes, I do know the proper way to prepare, salt and serve your french fries, but that's just an ancillary benefit of my degree. #humblebrag
Anyone who took the time to consume each miserable word of every NCAA document and story of 2011 knows that Buckeyes' postseason fate was sealed more by Bobby DiGeronimo making Ohio State a no-doubt repeat offender in the COI's eyes and less by Jim Tressel's diabolical coverup of his players bartering their possessions for discounts on tattoos.
We had previously debated whether the Troy Smith $500 handshake of 2004 would count toward the NCAA's repeat-offender window, making Tatgate's punishments more severe. It turned out it wasn't going to, but Bobby D resurfacing right around the time Terrelle Pryor was trying to convince the NFL that he should be eligible for the supplemental draft made the Smith affair irrelevant.
Since all that came down, OSU Compliance has been hard at work, as evidenced by all that paper. The irony is that I'm now going to summarize that monster document, as if you should trust me any less than I trust other summarizers.
Either way, I combed through all 805 pages, many of which were duplicates or copies of forms for things like vehicle registration and apartment leases. Here's my Director's Cut of all that stock footage.
INTRODUCTION: MEA CULPA
Ohio State's case number with the COI is M352. Go ahead and make that your new unlucky number (the M is already on your bad letter list).
The document was not a voluntary exercise; its genesis stems from one of the many requirements for Ohio State brought forth by the NCAA ruling last December. They have to check in and let the COI know how they're doing.
You would hope that everything is just swell, you guys would be sufficient, but the honor system has its flaws.
Upon stating its intent to fulfill the annual report requirement of its sanctions, Ohio State reminds the COI of its crimes. There's no need to rehash that, however here is what the AD has done since emerging from the rubble of 2011's cavity search that included FOI requests and media-driven lawsuits:
1. The Org Chart: It's bigger. More butts working compliance, checking on more players and more frequently. At least one compliance officer will now accompany teams on road trips. Sounds fun.
2. Job Creation: Seven new heads, ranging from assistant ADs to associates. The one the digestible synopses seized upon was Jazmine Lavender, of the Ohio State women's basketball Lavender clan - though the most interesting hire to me was Jason Singleton, who carries not only an NCAA investigator work history but a background in money laundering. He's legit.
3. Audits: Ohio State is having them. If you've won an award, have a jersey, ring, whatever - you need to be prepared to produce proof of your possession of that item for the balance of your amateurism. Special game jerseys, like the atrocious Nike Pro Combat ones, as well as helmets will be housed in containers that were constructed earlier this year specifically to house them until eligibility is exhausted.
4. Vehicles: Buckeyes already register their cars with the Ohio BMV. Now they'll also be registering them with the AD.
5. Tickets: If a player gives you tickets, you're going to be screened before you attend that game.
6. Social Media: Ohio State invested in software to track players' tweets and status updates. They're also required to take Twitter and Facebook class. Some players might have to take that class again.
7. Hi Braxton|Hi Crafty: If you're really good at football or whatever, congratulations - you get special attention. This section might as well be the DiGeronimo Clause because it puts new restrictions on where players can appear and what the nature of those appearances can and can't be.
8. Autographs: Not happening, not even for charity. Not from active players, anyway. Coaches can sign items, and there's a formal process for that now.
9. Jobs: Players have to tell the AD about them, they have to be approved and - here's the catch - they have to show up for work and produce paperwork.
10. Education: Everyone's getting it: Athletes, boosters, local businesses (I see you, Chipotle server brazenly giving away extra carnitas and free guacamole), parents, you, me, everyone. Holes are plugged and potential holes are being reinforced. The AD has no interest in having another 2011, ever.
TAKE YOUR APPENDIX OUT
The COI was given all of Ohio State's cancelled checks as evidence of what the university paid beyond all of the other papercuts and sanctions.
There are checks for $53,135 made out to the Boys & Girls Club, Make A Wish Foundation, Special Olympics and YWCA, along with that famous $20,000 check cut to Little Sisters of the Poor (not TCU - the actual Little Sisters).
What's also included among the appendices:
1. PSA Letter. A copy of a letter required to be sent to high school players who take official visits to campus that spells out all of Ohio State's sanctions. The wording sucks and amounts to some Hester Prine shaming and I'll leave it at that.
2. Prohibition of Sale Letter. Each player is required to sign a form promising not to engage in casting for a Tatgate sequel.
3. Slideshow! The PowerPoints shown to the team prior to the TaxSlayer Bowl. Each player got six tickets to that
shitshow game and they were accountable for them.
4. Shaming! Cautionary tales from Facebook, including the embarrassments of named players from Texas, Wake Forest, Slippery Rock, every school in Oklahoma (fish; barrel), Toledo, Arizona State, Florida State, East Carolina, New Mexico, UNC, Ohio State as well as the details of Michigan's current probation: DON'T STRETCH MORE THAN ALLOWED.
5. Agents, Drugs, Gambling, Fixing Games. All part of Compliance orientation. TL;DR - "NO."
6. Forms, forms, forms. All the stuff you can't sell and more. There's a cell phone registration form where the player indicates how he/she gets the money to pay the bill each month. Best part: There are spaces on the form to register three different cell phones. #playerplease
7. Book Buyback Program. To avoid this from ever happening in Columbus.
8. Craig James Killed Five Hookers And SMU Football. A viewing of Pony Excess, in which former SMU players including James nostalgically romanticize their complicit actions in destroying the Mustangs.
9. Voluntary Workouts: If Ohio State gets ensnared in anything resembling Stretchgate it won't be on account of not having enough slideshows about what's permissible.
10. NFL Draft parties. You have to provide your own transportation to and from, and if that seven-layer nacho dip was prepared by someone fitting the definition of an NFL agent DON'T EAT IT.
THE APPROPRIATE ACRONYM IS "CYA"
The document contains cautionary tale after cautionary tale after cautionary tale. Amateurism is more than a virtue: It's the monarch that rules this multi-billion dollar franchise and must be protected with vigilance.
Beyond simply providing guidance for players there are parameters for what coaches are permitted to do in recruiting, from time spent recruiting to guidelines for summer camps. Most of it seems geared toward football, as does the majority of the paperwork.
There are some interesting pieces of information about what transpired following Tatgate:
1. Sept 12, 2011 - discussion of preferential treatment and promotional activities for a specific player whose name name is blacked out. It expresses disdain that the activity occurred shortly after the Tatgate details broke.
2. Shariff Floyd. The Florida DE and former OSU recruiting target had to pay $2700 back to a charity while suspended. This case was discussed at the 9/12 meeting, perhaps because of the whiff of familiarity.
3. Social Networking for Coaches: Two weeks later coaches are informed that email is permissible but friending, tweeting, @ replying and IMing are not. Something called "MySpace" is also referenced. It must be new.
4. Second Season: The rules for recruiting are spelled out in great, painstaking detail. No question is too small or insignificant. It's a far cry from Woody Hayes simply recruiting the mothers of coveted players in order to install a permanent recruiter for Ohio State in each house.
5. Franklin Planner: Every month of the basketball season is mapped out, from April and July Evaluations to permissible phone calls. By the way, they're all permissible now - the excessive contact stuff that got Kelvin Sampson show cause'd (mainly for lying about it) is no longer against the rules.
6. D, R, Q: Dead, Recruiting or Quiet Period - these are all defined and scheduled. December 24-26 is a dead period. The period before, during and after the Final Four contains all three types of periods. Every question that has ever been asked about what is or isn't allowed is covered. It isn't overly specific or reeking of bloated bureaucracy at all. <-- sarcasm font
7. Boise State: Their violations across multiple sports that involved 75 players (what Pat Forde dismissed as "Couchgate" while building Tatgate up as some kind of watershed geopolitical scandal) are covered by OSU Compliance, which discusses how it can avoid similar transgressions at Ohio State which if they were to occur would undoubtedly receive the same media non-treatment as Boise State's did. <-- there's that font again
8. Honey Badger Does Care: LSU Compliance sent a cease and desist to proprietors of Honey Badger t-shirts, etc. "Honey Badger Does Care" was the subject line of the email sent to all OSU Compliance officials, which is kind of awesome.
9. Safety Exceptions: Sometimes coaches are allowed to participate in off-season workouts if the element of danger is involved. The best example is regarding the OSU Pistol Team, where a coach is only allowed to be present without the session counting as an official practice session "when the student-athlete is shooting." Oh. Okay.
10. Ding! Fries are Done: The massive redundancy within the document is necessary to show NCAA that OSU Compliance is all over everything. There are the rules, the changes to the rules, the slideshows for the players about the emails to compliance officials and university officers about the rules and email discussions between compliance officials about the drafts for the emails to everybody about the rules.
Summary: OSU Compliance is doing its job. Everything is just swell, you guys.